Humankind Culture Tier List – Best Cultures Explained

There's something for everyone on this list

Humankind Culture tier list
We rank all of the Humankind Cultures, allowing you to work out the best Humankind cultures across every affinity and era.

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Humankind is the new historical 4X strategy game on the block. It has stripped away Sid Meiers’s pick a nation and play formula, offering a mix and match approach instead. The whole point of Humankind’s approach is to think about how you want to strategize your playstyle and adapt to the map and other circumstances that might affect your progress. However, while all the Cultures in Humankind have their benefits, a few Cultures across the various eras appear to be the best choices for a specific age or builds. Therefore we have created a Humankind Culture tier list to reflect what we think are the best Cultures in Humankind, so you know what you should pick as you battle through the ages.


With most tier lists, you can normally define the strengths or weaknesses of everything via direct comparison and analysis. However, Humankind deliberately separates all the Cultures into specific eras. Since every Culture has an affinity (Culture type), not all eras have access to an affinity. Thus it becomes hard to rank all Humankind Cultures as we would in a traditional tier list.

Therefore, we have broken down all the eras into  ‘recommended’, ‘situational’ or ‘avoid’, rather than have S to D tier you see with other games. We think this is the best approach, as it respects adaptive and forward-thinking strategies at the heart of Amplitude’s Humankind. If a Culture only works in specific scenarios or niche builds, we will place them as ‘situational’. If you find the best Culture from an era has been taken, you can opt for a situational pick instead.

Humankind Culture Tier List

The best Ancient era Cultures

Recommended: Babylonians, Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Nubians, Zhao.

Situational: Assyrians, Harappans, Hittites, Phoenicians.

Avoid: Olmecs.

The best Classical era Cultures

Recommended: Achaemenid Persians, Aksumites, Celts, Maya, Romans.

Situational: Carthaginians, Huns, Goths, Greeks, Huns, Mauryans.

The best Medieval era Cultures

Recommended: Aztec, English, Franks, Ghanaians.

Situational: Byzantines, Khmer, Mongols, Norsemen, Umayyads.

Avoid: Teutons.

The best Early Modern era Cultures

Recommended: Joseon, Ming, Mughals, Ottomans, Spanish, Venetians.

Situational: Dutch, Haudenosaunee, Poles.

Avoid: Edo Japanese.

The best Industrial era Cultures

Recommended: German, Mexicans, Russians.

Situational: Austro-Hungarians, British, French, Italians, Zulu.

Avoid: Persians, Siamese.

The best Contemporary era Cultures

Recommended: Japanese, Swedes, Soviets.

Situational: Americans, Australians, Chinese, Turks.

Avoid: Brazilians, Egyptians, Indians.

The Best Humankind Cultures


Best Humankind Aesthete Cultures Zhao
Zhao is a great Culture to pick if you don’t want Stability issues. Image via Amplitude Studios.

Aesthete Cultures are what you should pick if you need to accumulate Influence. Influence is a big deal because it allows you to continue to expand your empire beyond its traditional borders. Furthermore, Influence is important for progressing your city down different build paths through the civic tree. Getting civics allows your nation to earn bonuses such as Combat Strength, bonus Science, Food, Production and more. Influence is nice at the start of the game, but it becomes more and more important as your empire begins to settle on its playstyle and focus. Therefore, the best Aesthete Cultures are in the mid-game, but there are a few exceptions.

Best Aesthete Cultures

If you’re looking for the best Humankind Culture for an Aesthete playstyle, it is by far Ming. Ming’s Grand Secretariat trait reduces the cost of enacting a civic and cancelling civics by 25%. It offers so many options to divert your civic build into whatever you are specializing in, plus, along with the Grand Teahouse, you receive +1 Influence for every district you have and +2 for every adjacent district.

The next up is the Franks in the Medieval period. The Franks get a nice bonus to Influence generation via their capital with the Crown Lands Trait. Furthermore, their emblematic district, the Scriptorium, gives a +2 influence to every adjacent district. An added benefit of the Franks is that they make a decent Scientist option and have a powerful cavalry unit, making them a decent Culture to adapt your playstyle towards in the future.

Zhao is the best Culture to choose early on, largely due to the Harmonious Thought trait. Zhao’s trait gives every district you build for the rest of the game +2 Stability. Most districts in the game reduce your stability by -10, meaning you can get an extra district for every five you build. This is a big deal considering Zhao is an Ancient era Culture and this passive trait persists for the entire game. The Zhao Culture also gets a huge Science boost if you happen to settle a city next to several mountain tiles!

As you progress to later eras, you can move to play either the Italians or the Austro-Hungarians in the Industrial era. Both Cultures provide major bonuses to a city’s stability due to their passives and district options. However, the Industrial era is the latest you can pivot to an Aesthete nation. The Contemporary era is all about ensuring you win the game and the best ways to do that are through conquest, Money or Science and not diplomacy or civic builds.


Best Humankind Agrarian Cultures England
England is a great source for fuelling you mid-game armies. Image via Amplitude Studios.

Agrarian Cultures are all about growing your population, allowing you to spend those pops on construction projects or on your army. At some point down the line, you’re going to need an Agrarian Culture, especially if you plan on going to war at some stage of the campaign. In addition, Agrarian Cultures are not too bad a choice for Science and Money-focused Cultures, especially if you pick a Culture that receives bonuses from your empire’s population, such as the Dutch, French, Germans.

Best Agrarian Cultures

The Celts are the earliest Agrarian Culture that you will want to pick if you plan on going to war from the Medieval era onwards. The Celts get a trait called Druidic Lore, which provides +2 Food for every Farmer Slot in a city or outpost. Furthermore, the Nemeton emblematic district gets +3 Food for every Attached Territory, which is useful for Expansionist or Militarist playstyles. The district also earns +3 Food for adjacent Farmer Quarters. The Early Modern period’s Haudenosaunee plays very similarly to the Celts, except it comes much late. Just some Food for thought there – pun intended.

The Medieval period’s English Culture has an interesting Agrarian playstyle. The Serf’s Labor trait +7 Food for every attached territory, offers a similar style as the Celts. However, the English do not get a Food-focused district. Instead, they get a Stonghold which makes them incredibly defensive, adding +2 range to every ranged unit garrisoned inside. Therefore, the English are one of the best agrarian Humankind Cultures, especially when it comes to Expansionist and defensive playstyles. We recommend choosing an Expansionist nation in the Ancient or Classical era, such as the Romans or Persians to be able to reap the most from being the Medieval English.

If you need copious amounts of Food towards the late-game for some reason, then the Industrial era’s Mexico is amazing. Mexico is another Food boosting Culture, with a large percentage boost to Food output. This Culture is one of the go-to’s for any empire looking to conquer their way to fame.


Best Humankind Builder Cultures
Builders are a great way of ensuring you can effectively produce whatever you need throughout the game. Image via Amplitude Studios.

Builders are very specialist Cultures that can complement any playstyle. If you want more Production from your units, buildings, or districts, chances are that a Builder-focused Culture will have something to benefit you.

Best Builder Cultures

If you want the building bonuses from the get-go, we recommend picking Egypt in the Ancient era. You will get a trait that gives you a +10% Production on all districts for the rest of the game. It suits early empire building to late-game Expansionist focuses. Not to mention, every Egyptian Pyramid offers +1 Stability to the city it was built in. Overall, Egypt is a very forward-focused Culture.

The Mayans are a good shout if you settle a city surrounded by mountains or rocky fields. Their emblematic district gains additional Production for every adjacent Makers Quarter, which you should build to exploit all stone fields and mountain tiles. At that point, your city shouldn’t need any more Production boosts for the remainder of the game, allowing you to diversify towards Science, Money, or an army-focused build in the mid-to-late game.

The Mughals provide very similar bonuses to the Mayans. The Mughals get a bonus to Production based on adjacent Makers Quarters and Production on Builder slots and territories. If you built a geographically broad empire in the early game, the Mughals are a nice pivot spot, especially if you didn’t get to pick Ancient Egypt.


Best Humankind Expansionist Cultures Romans
The Romans are a powerful Classical era Expansionist Culture. Image via Amplitude Studios.

Expansionist Cultures are all about taking over the map. This affinity is all about settling and interacting with tiles and cities, ransacking, and sieging opponents. You should also consider looking at the best military Cultures to flatten the best Expansionists found below.

Best Expansionist Cultures

The Achaemenid Persians are arguably the best Culture for Expansionist players. Its trait expands your City cap by 2, which is huge. It means you can actively settle more cities if you want to, or annex another empire rather than vassalizing them. These are good strategies because going over the city cap hits your empire with a -30 Influence penalty. It is very bad early on when you don’t produce much Influence, but it is something you can ignore in the later eras, especially if you picked an Influence-focused Culture.

Another great pick is the Roman Empire. The Romans grant a trait that allows you to increase your army size by 1. Normally these army sizes only get bigger later in the game through civics or research. It means that the Romans get a sizable advantage, especially if you pick a Militaristic empire before or after selecting the Romans in the Classical era.

There are a few situational Humankind Expansionist Cultures that are worthy additions we consider among the top entirely depends on what you’ve done. If you have managed to attach several territories to your empire, the British or Russians are valid options. The Russians grant bonus experience on new units and war enthusiasm, while the British get bonus Money and Science.

The Spanish are another solid Culture for conquering enemy empires. The Spanish legacy trait grants bonus Combat Strength to units that begin their turn in non-player controlled territory. This compliments almost any Militaristic focused Culture you’ll have picked so far in the game.

It is also worth mentioning that the Ottomans are the only Culture in Humankind that get a Combat Strength bonus to heavy weapons. Heavy Weapons are a vital part of the Early Modern era, all the way to Contemporary era armies, making Ottomans worth your consideration in our Humankind Culture tier list.


Best Humankind Merchant Cultures
Merchants help you generate some incredible amount of Money throughout the game. Image via Amplitude Studios.

Merchant nations are all about generating extra wealth from a variety of sources, such as trade or tile exploitation. However, some of these Cultures are much more niche than others. The Merchants we recommend in the Humankind Culture tier list are entirely dedicated to expanding their coffers.

Best Merchant Cultures

Aksumites are one of the best merchant Humankind Cultures. They get a powerful legacy trait called Horn of Plenty, which grants +2 Money on all exploits producing Money. Moreso, their emblematic district gets a +3 adjacent Money bonus for every Market Quarter. They are easily one of the most popular mercantile Cultures for purely economic playthroughs or for those looking to make some extra Money on the side.

The Ghanaians are the kings of trade routes and resources. It’s a Culture that benefits from extra gold generation for every tile being worked on by an Artisans Quarter. Similarly, the Venetians also offer solid bonuses for setting up trade routes. Picking either of the two is fine depending on how your civilization is shaping up.

It is worth noting that a number of economic Cultures require access to harbors or coastal water. If you are playing a very island focused map with a new world, or across many continents, Cultures like the Phoenicians, Carthage or the Dutch will probably work out as better choices. It also goes without saying the Contemporary era Chinese are strong gold makers, but stacking up Money so late in the game probably won’t tip your fame over the edge to win the game. For this reason, we consider Chinese as a situational pick in the Humankind Culture tier list.


Best Humankind Militarist Cultures. Humankind Culture Tier List
Warfare is one way to secure vassals and fame. Image via Amplitude Studios.

Militarist Cultures focus on the means that nations have to improve their martial prowess. Martial nations tend to enjoy bonuses to unit Production, improved garrisons, or increased Combat Strength. If you want to take over the world and earn fame this way, we’ll give you the best Militarist Humankind Cultures for the job.

Please be aware that Expansionist and agrarian Cultures complement Militarist Cultures well. If you want to abuse your army strengths, for example, you’ll naturally need plenty of Food to produce units or feed Expansionist policies to reap the rewards of conquest. You’re best cross-referencing the agrarian, Expansionist, and military sections to decide on your grand strategy.

Best Militarist Cultures

With all that said, the Mycenaeans are one of the best Militarist Humankind Cultures at the start of the game. The Mycenaeans are easily one of the best early Culture picks, and their Legacy trait makes any military playthrough relevant throughout the game. The Brutal Upbringing trait grants them 20% unit industry cost reduction, along with +25 experience for troops created at your cities or outposts. It allows them to continue to produce units at a great rate from the Ancient to the Contemporary period. The bonus starting experience allows them to rank up in fewer battles, ensuring your armies are more elite than your opponents. For these reasons we highly recommend them in our Humankind Culture tier tist.

Alternatively, the Aztecs offer the same -20% Production cost on units. The only difference between the Aztecs is they are Medieval era Culture and they +2 on land movement instead of bonus experience. If you want to go Militarist in the Medieval period, then the Aztecs are a great alternative.

Arguably the best Militarist Culture in Humankind is the Germans. They get the +3 Combat Strength on naval and air units, along with another 20% reduction on unit Production cost. Preceded by the Mycenaeans or Aztecs, the Germans can win any arms race just as well as you might expect.

If you enjoy cavalry combat, then you could start with Huns and go into the Mongolians. Huns grant you a bonus to Cavalry Combat Strength, with the Mongols getting the special Mongol Horde unit in the Medieval period. You can then follow it up with the Poles’ Winged Hussars in the Early Modern era. Be warned that the build falls off after that due to the inevitable invention of vehicles. Make sure you’re not stuck with horses when the rest of the world has moved onto tanks. If you want to play a Cavalry game, don’t pick Argamenomon’s avatar, as his AI personality loves playing the Hiitties and the Huns.


Best Humankind Scientist Cultures. Humankind Culture Tier List
Science is a great way of getting fame and securing your plane in the cosmos. Image via Amplitude Studios.

Scientist affinity Cultures are your primary method of researching technologies. These Cultures tend to provide an Emblematic District that grants bonus Science through a variety of methods. Furthermore, scientific Cultures are a great way to ensure you stay one step ahead of your competition with era technology, acquiring fame and collecting Stars when you eventually ascend into the heavens. Here are the best Science Cultures in the Humankind Culture tier list

Best Science Cultures

One of the best scientific Humankind Cultures are the Babylonians. This Ancient era Culture has the Brilliant Philosophers trait, which grants +2 Science in your capital for every researched technology. This is incredibly powerful, as there are 96 technologies in the game, 32 of them being in the Contemporary era. That’s a potential 192 bonus to Science in your capital just for playing the game! The Emblematic District is pretty decent too, especially if you settle a city in a prairie or dry grass-rich area and build plenty of Farmer Quarters.

Another really good Science Culture is Joseon. This Early Modern Culture offers +3 Science for every tile in your empire dedicated towards  Science. The Seowon emblematic district also grants +3 Science for adjacent research districts, which is a really good boost for anyone who picked a Culture like Greece, Babylon or the Umayyads, or invested in Research Quarters on the side.

Since there are 32 technologies in the Contemporary era, taking a scientific nation in the Contemporary era is a wise choice. For this reason, Sweden is a great pick for builds that have already invested in Science-focused Cultures up to this point in the campaign, especially with its Research Institute district and Prize Science trait.

Alternatively, Japan is a fantastic pick if you have not invested in Science so far in your current playthrough. The Japanese trait, Blossoming Innovation, reduces all technology costs by 20%. The Japanese receive a huge boost to previously low Science-producing empires when you need desirable late-game technology. It is not that bad of a Culture for Science-focused builds, but the 20% reduction will make your build fall off much earlier.


This concludes our Humankind Culture tier list. Do you feel we ranked the Cultures appropriately? Perhaps our analysis on some of the best Cultures for each affinity missed the mark. Maybe you even agree with our ranks and analysis. Either way, let us know what you think in the comments below!

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